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When Can I Move Out

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I was wondering at what age can I leave home? I want to move out when I am 16, but I have been told that your parents can keep you at home until you are 18 unless you have permission from them.
Signed: When Can I Move Out

Dear When Can I Move Out,


You are correct in that you cannot legally live separately from your parents until you turn 18 years old. There is though, one exception. In extreme circumstances, you may be what is called "legally emancipated" from your parents by a court of law if you are able to show that you are fit to live on your own. In other words, that you have the skills and means to support yourself, maintain a job, a home, etc. Although this provision exists in our laws, it is by no means granted on a regular basis and is something the courts are very reluctant to do. It is only under extraordinary circumstances that a minor would be deemed fit to live a productive adult life without the support of a family structure of some kind.


TeenHealthFX is very concerned with your desire to leave home. 16 may seem mature to you now, but it is an incredibly young age to want to leave the support of your home and try to make any kind of a life for yourself alone. Whatever is going on in your life that you might be feeling like moving out, it usually does not solve anything, and sometimes can make the situation worse.


If things are overwhelming you or are too hard to handle, finding someone you can trust to talk to is the first step. If you feel you are unable to talk to your parents, find another trusted adult. This person may be your teacher or coach, an older sibling, or your school guidance counselor. Let them help you with what is going on and give you some support. Please try this before making a move to leave home. Your safety and well-being are most important; and going out on your own at your age puts both in jeopardy. If you live in Northern New Jersey you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center For Health at (973) 971-6475 or the Atlantic Behavioral Health Center at (888) 247.1400 to make an appointment with a counselor.


TeenHealthFX does not know if you are thinking of running away so we want you to be aware of the following two resources: Childhelp USA - 1.800.4A CHILD; this is to report if you (or another child/teen) is being abused) and the National Runaway Switchboard - 1.800.621.4000; an organization you can contact if you are thinking of running away or if you need help after you have run away.

Signed: TeenHealthFX